Monday, March 31, 2014


It's time. Hurricane season is coming, so all the cruisers are making their move. Some of our friends are headed south to El Salvador, others are making the jump to the South Pacific or heading back north via the long passage to Hawaii. And we are heading north. Against the prevailing winds and currents, against prevailing opinion, we're going to be "bashing" all the way home.

Bryan hypothesized that it was the delivery captains who started calling this route "the bash" in hopes of drumming up more business from fearful sailors and, just a couple of weeks ago, we heard a story that indicates he might not be too far off the mark. Everything we've heard from people who've actually done the trip gives us more confidence that our plan is sound. We've dealt with headwinds and currents, high winds and big seas before. We know the boat can handle it (maybe even better than the crew). And we have plenty of time to wait for good weather to make the trip as easy as possible. 

Still, we've been a little apprehensive about the many, many miles we need to cover and all the potentially difficult capes to round. So we've been trying to break the trip up into manageable chunks. We plotted out 13 legs of 200 miles, roughly 48 hours. Some legs are a little bit long--Bahia Tortugas to Ensenada is almost 300. Others are significantly shorter--Astoria to St. Helens will be a breeze at +/- 70 miles.
Then, to help us visualize our plan, Bryan drew it on the wall.

The map is stylized, and not quite to scale. But it gives us a beautiful representation of where we've been and where we're going.
We plan to stop in between most of these ports along the way. And we wouldn't be surprised if we missed one or more of these in favor of another port that ended up more convenient or attractive in the moment. But this helps us to pace ourselves and watch our progress. The girls even made a tiny boat symbol as well as a (very much not-to-scale) house on the other end. On our passage from Isla Isabel to Mazatlan, the last portion of our first leg, I glanced up and more than once, saw that the little boat had been moved a little closer to our destination dot.

Many people opt to head back to the Pacific NW via Hawaii. The winds and currents are often much easier on boat and crew, though of course, there are more miles to cover. But we have pretty limited water and fuel supplies and don't think that is a safe option for us. Besides, we made friends in many ports along the way and are really looking forward to visiting them again on the way back. And we expect to meet up with family a time or 2 along the way too, something that wouldn't be at all feasible in the middle of the Pacific.

We've added some fuel tanks on deck for the long days of motoring and have put in a stock of good watch snacks to entice the whole crew to be excited about watches. We have a new watch schedule that makes better use of the energy of the young people we have aboard. And, since we expect the "bash" to be difficult, every day in which we can sail, every day that's not miserable, feels like a win. 

Leg 1-Yelapa to Mazatlan-188 miles (Already done! It was a beautiful trip and we even were able to sail for much of it!)
Leg 2-Mazatlan to Cabo San Lucas- 192 miles
Leg 3-Cabo to Bahia Magdalena- 170 miles
Leg 4-Bahia Magdalena to Bahia Tortugas- 253 miles
Leg 5-Bahia Tortugas to Ensenada- 281 miles Here we may detour out to Isla Guadalupe, the westernmost point in Mexico. It would add about 100 miles, about 24 hours to our journey, but if the winds are up, it would be considerably more comfortable to reach out and back again instead of beating into the wind and waves on a stubborn rhumb-line course.
Leg 6-Ensenada to San Diego-62 miles!!!

Leg 7-San Diego to San Miguel Island- 195 miles
Leg 8-San Miguel to Monterey- 180 miles
Leg 9- Monterey to San Francisco- 88 miles
Leg 10-San Francisco to Eureka- 223 miles
Leg 11-Eureka to Bandon- 213 miles
Leg 12-Bandon to Astoria- 124 miles
Leg 13- Astoria to St. Helens-68 miles

If all my numbers are accurate (I'm off the boat and away from my charts, so I'm not double checking) that's 2237 miles. That number seems impossible. But we plan to leave this afternoon for the first part of Leg 2, 150 miles or so across to the Baja peninsula. Before I know it, we'll be halfway...then 3/4s...then home.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Surfing in Sayulita

At some point during Ryan's trip, we cooked up a plan to spend a day in Sayulita with David and Carolyn from CrazyLove. David, Ryan, Bryan, and Meira all wanted to surf and Hannah, Carolyn, and I were considering spending some of our Christmas money on a paddleboard rental. So after we got settled in La Cruz, we headed up the road for a surfing day. Public transit to Sayulita is a multi-stage process so, in the interest of maximizing our beach time, we pooled our resources and hired a taxi to pick us up at the marina--what luxury! David had arranged sufing lessons with a little surf shop in town, so we walked up and down the beach until we found their surf shack.

We'd arrived a while before the best time of the tide, so we checked in a took a few minutes to wander around the little town checking out the souvenir options.
The ocean looked great for surfing but for paddleboarding, not so much. Carolyn, Hannah, and I found some chairs under some beach umbrellas and settled in for a day of intensive relaxation.
The surfers got a quick on-shore demonstration.


And then it was time to head into the water.08-P103064509-P1030646

Meira got up right away!

And the instructor stayed in the water working with the whole gang for quite a while.


There were some good rides...
...and some spectacular wipeouts.

But everyone agreed it was worth it...
...especially those of us who sat on the beach with cold drinks, and delicious snacks (oh, the Sayulita donut man, how we love thee.)

There were plenty of good people-watching opportunities. This small singer was a crowd favorite. He had no trouble with breath support or the concept of projecting his voice. Maybe he'll tackle pitch and tone quality next:-)

Roving merchants periodically interrupted our conversation and I felt sorry for the mothers especially, selling trinkets in the hot sun all day.

I spent a good portion of the day debating a chair hammock purchase.
Early in our time in Mexico, I'd seen another boater swinging in one of these from the end of her boom. Since we hadn't rented a paddleboard after all, I justified spending my Christmas money on a bright, rainbow colored one that makes my inner 8-year old smile.

Late in the afternoon, we went for a walk down the beach to take a look at a beach-side bungalow CrazyLove had rented for some visiting family. We crossed the stream that cuts the town in two. I can only picture it during the rainy season!


The bungalows looked just as good in person as they had on the internet--phew! Like grown-up summer camp, there were small cabins and wall-tents scattered throughout the property. Hammocks hung in the courtyard near the ocean and at the bar, instead of bar stools, some creative carpenter hung a line of wooden swings.

We ended the day back at the Octopus' Garden with cold drinks and good music.

I think it might be easy to assume that for cruisers, every day is this kind of day. And of course, that's not at all true. But we do get a few here and there, mixed in among enough days of problem-solving and chores to keep us really, truly grateful.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Take Two

Our first trip to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, we spent a lot of our time at the La Cruz Inn, where Michele and Trina stayed. We didn’t really explore the town and felt completely overwhelmed by the calendar of cruisers’ events we were handed when we checked into the marina. But this time around, we knew we’d be in town for a week or 2…or 3 or 4.
So our goal for our first full day in La Cruz was to walk around and see what we could see. We ran into David and Carolyn first thing, and took off for town together.
They’d only been in town a day when we pulled into the small boat dock just a few slips away from CrazyLove (and right next to our mutual friend Will from Thallasea. Remember Will and his errant dinghy? Remember Will and the lovely Christmas celebration?) But they’d already scoped out a cheap taco stand that sold rotisserie chickens and fried taquitos.
We walked through town, past the roundabout with the town’s eponymous cross (made of Hunacaxtle wood), and up to Tu Pollo on the corner of the main highway.
The sign says “Welcome for Chicken.”
We got fried tacos, bags of rice and salsa, and delicious potatoes (see them roasting there underneath the dripping chicken fat? Oh, yes!) for all 5 of us for about $7.50 USD. David and Carolyn dug into their order on the spot and immediately went back for more. We picked up some drinks at a local “mini-super” and walked back to the main plaza to eat.
We found some shade in the gazebo and dug into our meal under the watchful eye of the local iguana population.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the cobblestone streets around town.
We eventually stumbled across an lovely oasis called The Octopus’ Garden. It’s part restaurant/bar/coffee shop, part art gallery/T-shirt printing shop with live music several days a week, a dance floor upstairs, and a wood shop out back.
We walked through the quiet courtyard and found our way to the Huichol Art Gallery at the back. The owners work closely with indigenous people from the area to market their colorful yarn and bead artwork and reproduce several designs on bright T-shirts to help spread the traditional artwork more broadly.
After a few minutes, several kids burst in and dashed up the stairs. A little curious, we followed them up and found a young Canadian woman teaching an aerial silks class to a mix of locals and cruisers’ kids. She flipped deftly between English and Spanish and just as adeptly, flipped up and down the hanging silk.
I pulled up a chair next to one of the local moms and we easily found connections between our busy lives. She said, “I’d love to learn English, and they offer classes here, but by the time we get home from school and eat something…there’s just no time."
Evening found us at "The Twins," a taco stand near La Cruz's main plaza. This small street restaurant had opened just a few days before we arrived in town. Over the next few weeks, it was fun to watch the owners add menu items and equipment as they could. First, they added napkin holders, then salsa bowls for each table, and one proud day, they owner called Bryan over to witness the installation of an Al Pastor rotisserie. They learned our names and joked with Meira about her insatiable appetite. We met some of their 8 kids (including the 3-year-old twins) We affectionately nicknamed the place "Tacos on the Square," "White Tent Tacos," or eventually, Alejandra and Leno's place. 10 peso tacos and new Mexican friends--now we're talking!